Hello there! This is the fourth chapter of the Serp series. Hope you like it!
Arjun sat on a bench on the banks of the Godavari. He was crying, sad about the loss of his uncle.
He heard the sound of a sheep behind him, and turned to find a huge horde of them, led by an elderly shepherd. The shepherd had halted and was looking right at Arjun. He seemed to be from a foreign land.
The shepherd came and sat beside him.
“You seem to be sad, child. What happened?” He asked in a gentle tone.
“Yes… My uncle passed away sometime back.” Arjun sobbed. “But what is your name?”
He was slightly irritated at this old man poking his nose in his affairs.
The shepherd placed his hand on Arjun’s shoulder.
“What is my name, you ask. Name, indeed. Boy, if you wish to know a man, know him not by his name. The name is given to us at a young age, without our consent. And when a man turns frail and walks into the other worlds, it is similarly taken away from him. Names are temporary, and misleading. A thing can have a million names and a million things can have one name. If you wish to truly know a man, know him by his action. Know him in there…” He said, pointing at Arjun’s heart.
“Indeed, you mourn over something not be mourned over. Yes, those who believe a man is nothing but his name, are ignorant, and mourn death. But remember, everyone born is destined to die. Why mourn over something bound to happen? What has really died, is not your uncle, but his identity. He truly lives on, perhaps in a form you know not. But he hasn’t ceased to exist. He is here. A man is alive as long as he causes action. Has his life not affected yours? Are your actions, not a result of his? Indeed, your uncle has simply passed, to make space for you. Just like the water drops of this river flow onwards constantly, to make way for the next drop, similarly, life passes forward, to make way for life. Mourn not, my friend for you are wise.” He said, and then stayed silent for a while.
Arjun tried to understand the meaning of his words, and then smiled at the great wisdom this man possessed. He was indeed right. There was no cause to mourn for what had aready happened. It was time for him to move on.
“You asked who I was. I am a shepherd. My job is to show the misled sheep the right path. I come and go, from place to place. People call me Shepherd’s crook man. But how does it matter what they call me? I have no name, no country, no home, no possessions, all I have is work to do. If I do my work well, then my name matters not. I last stayed in the village of Northwich, the men there thought I was a citizen. But can any wise man call himself a citizen? We are but guests. We come, we work, and we move on, creating space, for the next drops of water. There can be no life, without death. There can be no darkness, without light. There can be no sound, without silence. And there can be no creation, without destruction. This is a great cycle-the cycle of life.
“Does a caterpillar mourn when its elders turn to cocoons? No, for it is a part of the cycle. Why then do you mourn for your uncle? He is now a butterfly, and he exists, but in a form different from you or me. So friend, mourn not his death. Instead, get up, and work. We are not on this Earth to rest. We are here to create action.” The man finished and got up from the bench, and walked on from the town, his sheep following him.
Arjun wiped off his tears and got up from the seat. The man was right. He had to act, and quick. His uncle had told him, that it was time. He knew not what he had to do. But he would find out. With that conviction, he headed back to his home.
To be continued…
Note: The character of Shepherd’s Crook man is inspired from the story of the land of Northwich by Benjamin from brother’s campfire. Thank you, Benjamin! Please do check out his blog and follow him, his stories are amazing.